Woman cashed dead sister’s VA checks for over a decade, pleads to stealing more than $100k in benefits

Staff Sgt. Matthew Shannon, of the individual personnel readiness office with the 911th Force Support Squadron, takes notes during an enlisted performance report bullet writing seminar at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, April 8, 2018. The EPR bullet writing seminar was conducted by Chief Master Sgt. Chin Cox, the Office of the Joint Staff Surgeon Senior Enlisted Leader at the Pentagon, to improve airmen's writing skills. (Airman 1st Class Grace Thomson/Air Force)

A Massachusetts woman faces up to 10 years in prison for stealing Department of Veterans Affairs benefits after pocketing checks delivered over more than a decade for her dead sister.

Robin Calef, 63 of Brockton, Mass., pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds on Nov. 5 before a federal court in Boston, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts

Calef stole $102,289.62 in government funds intended for her deceased sister, according to Department of Justice documents.

In December 2006, Calef’s sister, who was receiving monthly benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, passed away. Calef did not inform the VA that her sister died and the VA kept sending a monthly check. From December, 2006 until September, 2017, Calef continued to deposit the monthly allotment from the VA into a joint account she had with her sister, according to prosecutors. The DOJ said that over this period, Calef “did, on a recurring basis, knowingly and willfully embezzle” $102,289.62 in veterans benefits from that joint account.

Calef, who will be sentenced on Mar. 1, 2022, faces up to 10 years in prison, supervised release for three years; and a fine of $250,000, according to court documents. Additionally, Calef is obligated to pay back the $102,289.62 she illegally received.

Additionally, as part of her plea agreement, Calef has waived both the right to appeal her conviction and the right to challenge her sentence, including any court orders related to forfeiture, restitution, or supervised release.

The release did not contain any information about the sister’s military service. DOJ officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

James R. Webb is a rapid response reporter for Military Times. He served as a US Marine infantryman in Iraq. Additionally, he has worked as a Legislative Assistant in the US Senate and as an embedded photographer in Afghanistan.

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Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.